Making the most of your WordPress.com experience with the Business Plan
This article will discuss my experience of using the new WordPress.com Business plan. I have been using it for over a year now and have found the experience positive. I will discuss why I can recommend this option for other WordPress.com users to upgrade. I also discuss instances when is may not be necessary to upgrade.
The WordPress experience
Most WordPress.com bloggers are happy with the free WordPress plan. At a basic level, it gives them a platform to connect and share their lives with people around the world.
There are many motivations for why a person start a WordPress blog. Blogging is a means of reflection, a chance to express and share, to connect or even to offload frustrations. Some people use WordPress not as a blog, but as part of their online business (like me). The good thing, is that you can use both aspects of WordPress – as a business and as a blog in a complimentary way.
However, the majority of WordPress.com users do it to run a blog, utilising the free WordPress plan.
And most people are happy with that.
I want moar
But say you want to do more than that. You want to build your WordPress site into something bigger.
For example, adding features like an ebook, mailing list, your own videos, your own ads or running your website like a business? Then it is worth considering upgrading to the WordPress.com Business Plan.
This plan will open up more options and new learning experiences.
Here are some benefits to using the WordPress.com Business Plan:
1. Choice to use your own domain name
Having your own domain name is about stating ownership of your own space.
If you use the free WordPress.com plan, you will be assigned a free domain name. For example – ‘Michealjackson888.wordpress.com’. However, with the Business plan, you can add your own domain name – ‘Micheal Jackson888.com’. (Micheal Jackson.com is already taken).
Why is this relevant?
For most bloggers, this isn’t important. But for some people, especially if you plan to be on the internet for years to come, you may want to think of it. Especially if there is the possibility you want to leave WordPress. If you have your own domain, it is your own identity. You take it with you. Any links that other websites or bloggers have made to your website will be redirected to your website even if you move (though you would have to set up a re-direction).
2. Plugs-ins are now available on the WordPress.com Business Plan
WordPress.org (the self hosted version) is all about plug-ins.
Plug-ins are like little upgrades that enable you to customise your site or alter it appearance. Until recently, this option wasn’t available to WordPress.com on the regular plans.
Now it is – on the WordPress.com Business Plan. This has changed things significantly.
Plug-ins are quite easy to install and activate, or even remove if you don’t like them. However, the free WordPress plan doesn’t allow plug-ins.
It is arguable just how many plug-ins are really necessary, but some are really useful.
Yoast – is an essential plug-in that helps you with keywords and improve your search engine optimisation. More importantly it will help improve your style of writing. That I will discuss in a minute. You can also add plug-ins allowing you to add a store or online shop. This is useful if you wanted to sell products or even if you wanted to ask people to donate. Here’s my donation page – Buy me a coffee .
3. You will become a better writer
From using the Yoast plug-in, I learnt how to write in a way that is more optimal for the internet and websites.
I have learnt that writing a blog article or page post requires a different format and structure than writing an article, book, or poem. If you don’t write in an optimal way, it can affect your readability.
For example, if your text is too long and unbroken. Or not enough paragraphs and headings in a long piece of prose, it is harder to read. Especially so, if reading on a smart phone. People’s attentions spans are getting shorter (thanks a bunch social media).
With too much text, they may tune off and click away like goldfish. It was only when I started using Yoast, that I changed my writing style based on their recommendations to improve the readability of my text.
I’m still a bit lazy with my grammar as you may have noticed. Oh well…
Here are some simple tips:
- Break up your text into paragraphs.
- Have headings with text in between no more than 200-300 words max.
- Don’t have long sentences or start too many sentences with the same word in a paragraph.
- Use the active tense in preference to the passive tense.
Yoast will help you do that. When I first started my blog, I didn’t do any of this. My early posts were just a long stream of text. I have gone back and re-edited some of them since.
I realised that it is harder for the reader to read long streams of text. They get bored and start switching off. Yoast gives you a little score of red or green to assess how well your text reads and whether you have enough keywords. If you get a red, it will give you advice on how to improve it.
And, by doing this, you will become a better writer for the net, making you a more versatile writer in the long-term.
4. You can sell your own products.
If you stick to the free plan, you may notice that WordPress will put ads on your site. But what if you want to sell your own products or books?
Say you want to sell jewellery, home-made candles or exercise ebooks? Why not claim that space for yourself? Advertise your own products. I wonder how many people think of doing this. We take it for granted that WordPress will plonk an ad right in the middle of your text.
Most people will scroll past them ignoring it, but you can’t deny that some of that information gets imprinted into your mind. “Buy, Consume, Obey”. Also I don’t want to have some insurance ads or stuff that don’t resonate with my overall message on my space.
The way I see it, – is to plonk my own adverts on my own website instead.
It’s my space after all. One way is by utilising the side bar widgets. But as more and more people are using smartphones to browse, these sidebar widgets don’t immediately show up, except at the end. So now I am considering manually adding my own ads into the text.
You can do this with the business plan. There are options to add Widgets and to add links and product pages. I have a few amazon links on my website to health related books and I advertise my own ebooks.
Here is an example of one of my pages where I advertise products and include a sign up mailing form for mailchimp:
This is one of my more popular pages. I get regular sign ups to my mailing list here. In return, people get a free copy of my book via PDF through MailChimp.
5. You get more storage space
Space is valuable. It is now advised that blog articles should include images. So it helps to have many pictures.
Pictures use up a lot of space on your hard drive. Even storage devices have a limit. If your site is picture heavy, like some travel blogs, it can make it slow and sluggy. Fortunately, the WordPress.com Business Plan gives you unlimited space. It also can serve as a place to store photos and documents. The upload time is a little slow but as there is unlimited space, you can put a lot of things there, including images, videos and documents to be used at will in your website.
6. You get 24 hour customer and technical support
This is a winner. If you have a problem or can’t figure something out, you can immediately talk to a Happiness Advisor. It is basically an online chat window and you will receive an immediate response. No calling a customer support number and being put on hold to the sound of sappy music. Also they will stick with you until you get a resolution to your problem.
24 hour support is important when running a website. There are lots of different people working in support, so in the event that one person doesn’t answer your question, someone else may get it right.
7. You get security and value for money
What you get is good value compared to other website providers.
WordPress.com (Automattic) host your site. You don’t have to pay an external web hosting company like Blue Host to do it for you.
They are fully responsible for security. I have known a few people whose websites have been hacked, even when they paid someone to manage it for them. On the Wordpess.com Business Plan, you have less risk of this happening. They are pretty confident they will protect you. More importantly, this is covered in the cost.
True costs of self hosted regarding security
If you self hosted, in order to fully protect your site, you could end up paying between $125 to $425 a year on security and back up like Sucuri and VaultPress (Source – Copyblogger.com – What is the true cost of building and managing a WordPress website?)
If you are tech savvy, I assume you can manage this a lot cheaper. But as you can see, the price is not that different to the WordPress.com Business Plan.
You could take a chance and go with cheaper or free security options. But if I had a site I had put a lot of work into, I wouldn’t want to do that.
Just last year, I got an email from a website, whose mailing list I had signed up to years ago. This person’s website had been hacked and she was announcing the creation of a new website. In her case she wasn’t able to recover a lot of her articles. Years of work had disappeared. She was positive and took it as a sign to start again. But still.
From time to time, I consider whether I should move to self-hosted. However, the benefits of staying at WordPress.com outweight the benefit of switching (namely, the cost of paying for security versus having WordPress.com handle it for me) is not much different.
Also, because I have invested a lot of time into creating content for my site, I don’t want to skimp on security. So if I did go the self-hosted option, I would end up spending almost as much on security as I do now on my WordPress.com Business Plan.
Staying up to date
If you self host, you do need to make sure your plug-ins are updated, otherwise, there is a risk of exposure to hackers. So you have to actively keep it updated.
With the WordPress.com Business Plan, you don’t need to worry about updating anything. You could in theory take a few months away from it, and it should still be running fine when you look again at it.
In the event that you want or need to withdraw from life and business for a few months, then you can feel comfortable it will be looked after.
One down side to this is that you have to keep up with your payments. Otherwise your site could potentially be shut down and content lost if you don’t. But that’s the same with self-hosted as you have to keep up with your hosting fees (albeit, they are a lot cheaper).
My personal experience of using the WordPress.com Business Plan
Next, I will discuss some of the things I have learnt from using plug-ins as well as some other experiments I’ve taken in building an acupuncture website as a business platform.
A learning experience
When you begin your journey into cyberspace, you soon realise that there is so much more to learn and so many opportunities to reach out to others around the world. It makes me wish I had started years earlier. Like 10 years earlier. Instead of using all my spare time playing 9 ball pool. It was fun though.
One of the initial advantages of using the WordPress.com Business Plan is that it made me realise that I had to start learning again in order to grow my website. I’d previously had a website before, but it was small and simple in comparison.
I learnt about SEO and Keywords
By using the plug-in Yoast, I was able to learn all about keyword optimisation and how to use them on some of my articles to get them to rank higher in search engines. As a result some of my articles do get traffic. I will explain one of my keyword experiments below.
What is SEO?
Some people don’t really know (or care) what search engine optimisation (SEO) is. Basically, these days, the majority of net users use Google as their primary search engines. This is for good reasons. Google is simply designed and user-friendly. Ironically as I learn more, I am starting to move away from using Google as my default search engine.
Some bloggers are writing on unusual or different topics – arts, crafts, certain movies, books reviews, foods, special places. And some of your information could be useful to people searching on the net. But they may not find your site if you don’t use an adequate amount of keywords on your related subject.
Keywords are simply words or phrases that a person may enter into a search directory like Google and Yahoo. For example, someone writes “haunted houses in London” That is a keyword phrase. Now perhaps you happen to be writing a blog about ghosts or spirits. And maybe you just happen to know of a house and you’ve written an article about it. Maybe your house is haunted.
On a side note, there is a murder house close to where I live in North London. In the 80’s, a serial killer defiled, chopped up and buried his victims there. Ever since then, it’s been difficult to sell the house. Sorry, this side note has absolutely no relevance to this article. Just thought it interesting.
Unless I want to create a website about that house and jam it full of keywords. I suspect it would be relatively popular. Comment below, if you want me to tell you which house I’m referring to.
My keyword experiment
If people find your website, then it will start to rank higher in Google.
I did a keyword experiment based on the popular blogger Steve Pavlina. I enjoyed his works. For those who don’t know, he is a successful blogger in America who was getting millions of visitors a month. He also has a very unusual lifestyle.
When people become popular they also get critics and people accusing them of being a scam or running a cult. This is what had happened to Steve.
So I thought, I’d take advantage of this and write a satirical article about him.
This article was packed full of keywords such as – “Steve Pavlina cult” and “Steve Pavlina scam”.
I thought it best to check with Steve first if I could run this article. I sent it to him and would have respected his decision if he had told me he hated it and shelved it. Fortunately, he not only said yes, but he told me the article made him laugh.
So I ran it. And a couple of things happened. I get visitors come to my site after finding this article. My website actually comes up fairly high in google for the keyword “Steve Pavlina cult”. Now on page 1. That is pretty good and shows my keyword experiment worked.
But then there is this strange situation, when I check my stats and I notice I am getting people visiting my site from all around the world to read this satirical article about how evil Steve Pavlina is. This is kind of crazy, because my website is about acupuncture – not about how Steve Pavlina is running a cult in the Las Vegas desert.
So much for sticking to a niche…
What has a website by an acupuncturist got to do with Steve Pavlina?
I imagine a lot of people are curious because they like his writings and are curious to see what on earth could be in such a strangely titled article.
Other people may be looking for dirt about Steve, but actually my article is positive towards him. So they leave. And that is fine, as it demonstrates that my experiment is a mini-success.
Also this traffic does help my overall google rankings. Also, as the article is very long, the bounce rate isn’t too quick.
Thinking about your keywords is a useful thing to learn about. And that is something that can be done through the WordPress Business Plan.
This is an unusual example of utilizing keyword, but they can be used to help your site get more traffic.
Other ways you can use keywords to build a website
For example, if you live in a really small town in Sweden that is relatively unknown, you could write an information site that is practical and useful for tourists. You can highlight all the good places, local foods, the areas to avoid, how to use the transport.
In this connected world, someone somewhere, is going to be visiting that place sometime. And they will be sitting down at their computer typing in the name of that place to find out what to do there.
In this instance, it would be great if your website came up in page 1 of google.
To get it there you need only write a really long article or several articles about what you can do there. Making sure to add lots of keywords – the name of the town or any other famous landmarks there. That is the usefulness of keywords.
This way, that particular article is more likely to rank higher in a search engine site and more people are likely to find your site.
These are just some examples.
The WordPress.com Business Plan made me adopt a long-term approach to building traffic
I purposely decided not to rely on the WordPress Reader function in order to build traffic.
Perhaps that admission may get some odd looks. After all the Reader function is meant to help us build our site and get traffic.
The issue is that I want to focus on organic traffic through search engines. I felt the Reader function may make it harder for me to assess what traffic comes through search engines and what is coming through the Reader. Also I am not clear how many followers or likers actually do read any of my content.
For this reason, I decided to deactivate my like and follow button (as much as I am able).
I also truncated my posts in the WordPress Reader. As a result I have very few WordPress followers, (possibly the least amount for a WordPress.com site, considering the amount of content I have written).
I want to see how my site performs based on my content and overall strategy. I am taking a long-term approach. This way I can assess what I think is working well and drop what isn’t.
So far, the traffic building has been slow, but is consistent with what other popular websites have written about, in their process of building audiences. The process seems to take around 2 to 3 years if done in an organic way.
Perhaps my choice may not be right and could be costing me some opportunities to build traffic quicker. But it is the choice I’ve taken. Time will tell me whether it works out. It is still early days yet.
Do you take WordPress.com to be your lawfully wedded wife?
So far, I am enjoying my choice to go with the WordPress.com Business plan, so much so, that I extended it to two years instead of one. I have made a firm commitment for this time.
One of the reasons, I speak so positively about it is that I have tried out other website providers and found that the WordPress.com Business Plan really hits all the buttons for me.
I was tempted by Solo Build It (SBI), but to be honest, I was a little put off by its design, which looks a little out of date.
On the other hand, their training lessons and guidance on creating a business website are second to none. So these advantages do balance the negatives.
I suspect that if I had stuck it out with SBI, I probably would have developed my website as a business faster.
However, I like WordPress.com. I have a lot of control over how it looks. I could have chosen some attractive templates to make it look more aesthetically pleasing, but I really wanted a more simple style – black and white and mostly text-based. Functionally, WordPress.com is very simple to use with a lot of versatility.
Gutenberg editor – jury’s still out, but so far ok
For a while, I did start to wonder after the new Gutenberg editor was introduced, Fortunately, after their initial setup period, the bugs have mostly been eradicated and I am finding Gutenberg as easy to use as the original editor. I do hope that WordPress continues to allow the classic template for writing content.
Is the WordPress.com Business Plan the right fit for you?
The WordPress.com Business Plan is not for everyone. Some people don’t have the time or need any of the extra features that the plan provides.
The answer to: ‘Do you need to upgrade?’ – is probably ‘No‘ if:
- You are happy to run a simple blog.
- You on a limited budget or don’t want to spend money.
- You don’t want to have to update or do anything technical.
- You want to have the freedom to leave your website alone and then return at any time, and when you return it is exactly the same as when you left. Even years later
- If it is a hobby or a side interest.
If any of these factors apply to you, then you do not need to upgrade to the WordPress.com Business Plan. It would be a waste of money.
In this case, the free plan is good.
Other downsides – switching from WordPress hosted (.com) to self-hosted (.org)
Some WordPress users are not aware that there are actually two WordPress’s.
There is the WordPress self hosted option (WordPress.org) and the hosted option (WordPress.com). There are plenty of articles on the internet to explain the differences. I wrote an article here describing why I prefer the WordPress.com Business Plan – Switching from WordPress.org to WordPress.com.
It is worth checking out this article because the majority of articles on the internet, which compare WordPress.com and WordPress.org tend to favour WordPress.org.
However, a lot of these articles are now out of date. This is because the WordPress.com Business Plan can now do a lot of the things that WordPress.org used to only be able to do. Such as use plug-ins and have a wide range of themes, so some of these arguments are no longer valid. Some of these old articles need to be updated to discuss how WordPress.com is evolving.
Practicalities of making a switch – Possibly not easy
If you did envision at some point that you may want to switch to a self-hosted WordPress.org account from your WordPress.com site, you may want to consider this carefully before upgrading.
If you have the free WordPress.com account, then there is no problem as the transition is supposed to be relatively easy.
However, if you do upgrade to a Business Plan (or even the Premium Plan), this transition may be more difficult.
The blogger – LiterallyShe.com explained how she tried to switch from the WordPress.com Premium plan to WordPress.org but found the process full of difficulties. Her article is here – Getting Down to Business, Why I chose not to Self Host.
I should imagine that not many people are going to want to switch once they make a commitment, but it doesn’t mean that a person won’t think of it.
If you are a controversial figure, self-hosted is probably best
I could imagine is someone wrote some content that is considered controversial or ‘offensive’, which is quite common in this day and age, and enough people complained about it, WordPress could potentially shut it down under the reasons that it violated their terms of service.
This is one of the reasons why people bring up the whole renting versus buying comparison between self-hosted WordPress versus hosted WordPress. If you own your own site, you won’t get shut down (easily).
In that case, going self-hosted might be the best step.
If I ever felt that I wanted to discuss controversial subjects, I would have to consider starting a new website on a self-hosted site.
The advantages of a theme-based website
One thing I have learnt in my short time on writing my website is that theme based websites have a greater chance of becoming more successful than blog based websites.
What this means is that your website has a specific theme. It could be a very narrow theme like a website about nightlife in a small city or town. Or perhaps a website based on samurai swords – where you give lots of background information on swords – manufacturing process, history. And then also sell or link to reputable sellers as an example.
Which is right for you?
Creating a theme based site means you are producing content for a certain group of people. If there is a demand for your content, you can slowly build an audience.
In comparison a general blog on your daily life is less likely to build up organic traffic (i.e. traffic that comes through search engines) than a theme based website on a specific subject of interest.
Whilst a lot of traffic can come from the WordPress ‘Reader’, making some websites appear popular. Of more importance (to me), is how much traffic you generate organically from SEO, google searches, or other sources like website links and social media.
Theme versus Blog based
If your website is blog based and this is working for you, then the WordPress.com Business Plan may not be necessary. It would probably be overkill. A regular WordPress plan or free plan is fine.
However, if you are looking to create something more dynamic and even to create a business through your website, than I would consider adopting a theme based site and also upgrading to the WordPress.com Business Plan.
You want your site to become an authority in its particular niche. A place where people come over and over again. It would really help to have more flexibility over design and to use plug-ins in order to achieve this. All of this is available on the WordPress.com Business Plan.
Theme based sites versus blog based sites
For more information on theme based sites, I recommend you read these articles. They discuss one of WordPress’s competition in the website building world – Solo Build It (SBI, previously Site Build It). I found them very insightful.
The first article is by Foliovision.com – SBI (Site Build It) versus WordPress: How to structure a Website.
The second is Ken Evoy’s article. Ken Evoy is the founder of Solo Build It – Should you Blog: For most Small Business people… Blogging is the worst choice to build a Business.
I found these articles insightful and made me rethink the content I was producing.
There is a natural tendency to write blog content because it is enjoyable and more earthly. Perhaps in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s, it was easier to write like this and build an audience. But nowadays with the billions of blogs and other social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, etc, it is harder to build an audience.
As a result, a more strategic approach my be necessary – hence a theme based website instead of a blog based site.
Here is an example of another acupuncturists website – Acupuncture-Points.org by Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott, that adopts a theme based approach through SBI.
According to him, his site was getting over 50,000 visitors a month and 200,000 page views in 2017, which is pretty incredible for an individual acupuncturist’s website and shows just what is possible. If you look at his content, you will understand why. There is a wealth of articles. This website convinced me that a theme based approach is better.
Other website platform options
There are other options nowadays and it is worth exploring these too. For example Squarespace and Wix. I don’t know much about these, but the other option I have already mentioned is Solo Build It.
I wrote an article on SBI here – Should I choose Solo Build It (SBI) to build a website for my Complementary Therapy Business Website?
Ultimately, the customer has some good choices when making a decision on choosing a website provider. And it is really worth taking the time to research before you make a decision. Ask yourself – what is the right choice for you and which platform will help you reach your goals?
It is kind of like a marriage or buying a house. Once you make your choice, you could potentially be stuck with your new wife/husband/house for the next few years.
To quote the Knight Templer in the movie – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:
“You must choose, but choose wisely”
Yes. Very wisely indeed.
WordPress.com Business Plan
If you are interested in learning more about the WordPress.com Business Plan, click here.
Simple Guide to blogging
If you have found any of this information useful, you may also be interested in one of my other ebooks – How to write a blog for a Complementary Therapy Business (First Chapter free).
This ebook is focused on writing a complementary therapy blog. However, the general principles I discuss, can be applied to other types of websites and blogs.
- Webhealer.net: A Good Starter for your Complementary Therapy Business
- The Genki Health Channel: YouTube
- New Book Promo: the Genki Self Health Guide
This content includes referral or affiliated links to products or services. Visit my disclosure page for more information.